Republican Governor Bill Lee on Thursday made his first public appearance in two weeks, and suggested Tennessee residents think about getting vaccinated – but insisted it's not the government's role to take any steps beyond providing information and vaccines.
Tennessee is the fifth-worst state in the nation for adults getting their first vaccine dose, and the ninth-worst for being fully-vaccinated. Less than half of Tennesseans have been fully inoculated.
"I think that we want to continue to encourage Tennesseans to get the vaccine," Governor Lee said Thursday, not asking or urging residents to get vaccinated, and not explaining the deadly chance residents are taking by choosing to not be vaccinated.
"It's the best tool we have to manage the COVID situation – the health situation that we have," he said, seemingly correcting himself mid-sentence to avoid saying coronavirus or pandemic.
"We'll continue to provide access, we'll continue to make it available," he said of the coronavirus vaccine, insisting that is the extent of "the government's role."
"The government's role is to provide information, to provide education, to provide access, to provide...um...to provide the vaccine," he continued, unable to think of any other responsibilities he has as the head of the state.
"It's not to mandate, to require, it's not to blame, to shame those who choose not to. It is to create an environment where people can make a personal decision about the vaccine."
WSMV adds that Gov. Lee "also addressed the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus and said the state is monitoring the situation."
Lee has been noticeably absent after his politically-ambitious Health Dept. Commissioner fired the state's top official in charge of vaccines, for merely releasing a memo confirming that state law allows minors who wish to get the vaccine to be inoculated without parental notification or consent.
Lee says he supports Dr. Lisa Piercey's decision to fire Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs.